Sunday, June 22, 2008

Philadelphia Sprint Tri: Part the Rest in Excruciating Detail

But before the fun there was anxiety. A boatload of anxiety. Flotillas of anxiety. ARMADAS of anxiety (to continue with the boat metaphor).

As you may or may not know, I suffer from an anxiety disorder. I take this stuff daily, except on race days, or long-run days, when I find I don't need it:

I share this here not just because it's the malaise du jour, but in case anyone (of the two of you) reading suffers from this malady. I am living proof that you can in fact face your fears and do it anyway. It might not be pleasant at times, and you might in fact drive everyone around you mind-bendingly mad, but you yes, you can do it.

I got to Philly after a 4-hour car ride and immediately conscripted the Boyfriend—that would be Number One Daughter's BF—(who was giving up his room at the monastery (long story) to me and NOD for the night), to drive me to the expo to get checked in and attend the mandatory pre-race meeting, where they went over about 10,000 rules which no one in her right mind could possibly remember.

Then we did lots of running around to pick up last-minute items (CO2 cartridges, gatorade, oatmeal, you know, the usual), 'til it was time to pick up NOD at the train station and head for dinner. I got to bed about 10 p.m. and slept like a baby.

Up at 5 a.m. Transition opened at 6. Of course I didn't realize that my sherpas, NOD and K. would not be able to come into the actual transition area with me. So we said good-bye and that's when I first cried. Because I wouldn't see them for another, what, 2 1/2 hours???

I may never see you again.

I want my mommy.

I just gotta say: Triathlons are ridiculously complicated. How to rack your bike, where to put your damn NUMBER on the bike, where to stash your stuff, how to SET UP your transition area.

I had LBTEPA's list with me, and I still couldn't get it all straight. There are a million little decisions to make, and everyone around you is rushing, all of which just sent my heart rate thru the roof. And that's before I even started!

For instance: where to put my glasses during the swim? There was supposed to be a "special needs" table at the swim entrance where I could leave them, and then they would be transported to the swim exit, a few hundred yards down the river. But what if they didn't make it? That would have been the end of my race. The alternative was to walk to the swim entrance blind, or wear my prescription goggles around. I opted to keep my glasses in my bag at the transition area, and just be blind for a while.

So note to those of you who wear glasses: Decide what you're gonna do ahead of time.

Luckily, (for me) I made friends with my bike rack neighbors, who tried hard to calm me down, (one of them even hugged me!) and another let me borrow her cell to call NOD (next note to self: Do not leave cell phone in car) when I realized I had tons of time before my swim wave at 8:14. So I found NOD and went to visit her and cried again.

I also gotta say: I DON'T CRY! Ever! What the hell is with all the crying?!?! K.asked me afterwards what I was so nervous about, and I couldn't answer. My free-floating anxiety had apparently simply reached its apex.

My main worry was not NOT completing the swim. It was completing the swim without a broken nose. As we have established previously, I read too much, and I had read one too many tri reports about brutal vicious swim starts, with people swimming over you and kicking you. And the wave that went off 7 minutes after mine? Men 25-29. Not known for their mild ways.

But as with MOST THINGS IN LIFE, all that worry was unnecessary. Soon enough it was time for my start. I got in the water, and tried to figure out where the slow people were. To the back and the right? Or the back and the left? It turns out that half the people in my wave waited 'til the horn blew before getting in the water, so there was no getting behind them. Since I wanted to get acclimated, I chose to get in and tread water for 7 minutes. The water temp was perfect: 74F. I had on my sleeveless wetsuit, just in case it gave me an advantage.

The day was glorious. Beautiful blue skies, and here I was, the luckiest girl on planet, getting to SWIM in the beautiful Schuylkill River (seriously, it was beautiful). We did a straight shot down under the Columbia bridge, turned right around the first triangular buoy, swam along the length of the bridge, turned right again, straight until the next rectangular buoy, turned right, and swam in.

Swim rating: A+! No collisions, and instead of me freezing and treading water when I got near someone, I actually—get this—went around them. Just as though it were a race.

.9K took me 26 minutes. Smooth and steady, freestyle, easy-breathing, all the way. Yay me!

I chose to walk to transition. Many people had counseled me about not rushing transition, and I listened. It might look like I pulled up a chair and took a nap, after reading a novel, but no, I just took my time. Next note to self: Bring towel to wipe feet and face, because that will work better than a T-shirt. Sigh.

I also decided not to run out of transition since my heart rate was still ridiculously high.

T1: 5:56

It took me a while to get settled on the bike, feel good and get my head in the moment, which was my goal throughout the morning. I didn't care who passed me. I just wanted to enjoy the ride. I finished loop one in 32 minutes, and saw K and NOD cheering in the stands, which was fun. The ride had a few good uphills, nothing too horrible, just enough to make it challenging, and some fun fun fun downhills. I finished loop 2 in 31 minutes.

Oh, and I remembered to thank each and every volunteer. Twice!

Can I just say I loved the bike course? The day was so perfect. The weather perfect. Philly perfect. I loved mankind. World peace? Of course!

The one unusual thing I noticed on the bike course: It was eerily silent. There was no gabbing amongst participants the way you find on, say, a run course. No car noises either, since the roads were closed. Just birds singing in the middle of the city. It was transcendent. Again I tried to stay in the moment.

Before I knew it, I was pulling into transition, 15 miles in 1:03, which somehow translated into 15mph (not), but whatever. My left foot stuck in my pedal and for a few seconds I thought I was going down, but at the last moment I pulled it out. This time I trotted over the timing mat cuz I didn't want to add to my bike time, but then I walked to rack my bike. People were running by me left and right.

Bike rating: A+!! Do this race just for the beautiful bike course.

Only one thing left. I changed shoes, drank some gatorade, noticed some chafing under my arms, so tried to body glide them, but my body glide fell apart. Off I strolled to the run exit.

T2: 3:48. I hated putting down that novel, but I had things to do.

The run. On all my practice bricks my legs felt like lead. Curiously, this time, they felt fine, they just wouldn't move. By now the sun was out full force. Mile one in 11:00. Not too horrible. I tried to settle in behind someone, anyone, who could get me through. When I hit the water stop, I ate a gu, gulped some gatorade, and settled in behind a 27-year-old guy who was running slow and steady. I sped up a bit and he looked over and said, "Whacha got?" to which I replied, "I'm EMPTY, babe!" He said his goal was not to walk, that he was telling himself he had the rest of the day to walk. Which I adopted as my mantra. I slowed as the sun got to me, and I developed some kind of weird stomach/side cramp. Everything felt good except my stomach cramp, for which I tried all kinds of breathing contortions.

Whatcha gonna do?

Before I could say "bob's your uncle," there was the finish.
Bringing it all back home

Run: 36:18/11:42 min miles. Which believe it or not was faster than I thought I was going.

Afterwards, I felt like barfing. Which was quite unfortunate since the piles of free food were immense. I couldn't think about food. Instead, I opted for this:
I'm pretty sure I proposed marriage to the masseuse.

And then there was this:

Later, there was some snoozing in the park, some french toast at a diner, a long nap, and a persistent headache.

If you've read this far, congratulations!

I want to remember every moment of this, and I thank God and my lucky stars that I could actually do it.

And were this my podium speech, I would also like to thank all my mentors, who put up with a LOT (they can tell you!), especially LBTEPA, 21st Cent. Mom, Little Miss, Nancy Toby, Eileen, all my peeps at D.C. Tri, D.C. Rainmaker, K., and of course, NOD. You are all terrific, but I must warn you: You'll be going thru it all again come July 27!


SCMorgan said...

You've got to write a book. Really. You had ME crying. I am so proud of you. Think how far you have come. Amazing.
BTW, what's up with next week and Mr. T? Are we going to try to meet up?

LBTEPA said...

Oh I am just wiping my eyes reading this, I am SO PROUD OF YOU.Why don't you move here so I can give you a BIG HUG!!!!

Laurie said...

You're three for three, I have tears too.

Congrats Jeanne! You did a great job, especially facing your fears. Keep it up :)

Rainmaker said...

Awesome report. I love some of the photo titles btw.

And I really love the mantra of that guy "he was telling himself he had the rest of the day to walk." - I'm going to remember that the next time I think about walking (like this morning).

Congrats again, you rock! Onto July!

BettyBetty said...

Good for you! That sounded like success to me!

Old School Runner said...

You did great! Congratulations!

Bex said...

Congratulations! So freakin' cool. You're inspiring ME to do a tri. Speaking of tris ...I fell in lust with a road bike today. It was a Trek 2.1. Very very light.

Nora said...

Yay! Sounds like you did great! Congrats!

Jade Lady said...

Thanks for sharing all these details about your race day. I, too, felt many of the same things. Like, how in the heck does one get that bike bib on, how to rack a bike, swim anxiety, blah blah..

Glad you had a FANTASTIC first TRI. Oh gosh, you've already spec'd out your next Tri race? Man..I got to get my butt in gear!

Nancy Toby said...

Congratulations and well done!!! You did fantastically well! Glad you had fun out there.

I still feel like throwing up most of the time on race mornings. It's just part of the game. It's always over as soon as the swim starts.

Lesser is More said...

Congrats! Way to rock your first race! Sounds like you had tons of fun doing it too!

Triseverance said...

Freaking A Yea for you, awsome job and you even refrenced my favorite slogan. Bob's Your Uncle. Love it, what a great race you ran!!! Very proud for you as you should be of yourself. Great Job!

Nancy Toby said...

One thing that somebody said to me once helped with that free-floating pre-race "what if, what if" anxiety. They said "You will know what to do when the time comes". So when that anxiety starts creeping in, I repeat to myself "you will know what to do" and yeah, surprise, I pretty much do when the time comes.

Neese said...

"boyfriend"? WHERE have I been!??
Jeanne I'm so proud of you. To feel the fear and do it anyway, as you know is being brave, and you were! I am teared up. Way to go!! xoxo

ShirleyPerly said...

Congratulations! You did great and awesome race report too. You had me hooked from the start. Maybe I need to be taking some of those chill pills to deal with the anxiety I get doing short races, LOL.

Jon Wolfsthal said...

you are the BOMB. My inspirational Nemesis is now just my inspiration. We missed you at the DC Tri training event, but you were doing so much more.

Man are you the Bomb. You are so the bomb, you are the A Bomb.

Vickie said...

Congrats! Jean ____, you are a triathlete!

Laura said...

Great job and great report! It sounds like you really kept your cool throughout the race and came in with a fantastic time :)

Running Chick said...

Take *THAT* anxiety-monster! HOORAY FOR JEANNE!!! You had FUN! You kicked butt! You trusted in the training!

Bustin' with pride, joy and happiness over here.


eileen said...

Let's all take a good look at the photo "bringing it all back home"!! There's that beautiful stride again...those legs are at least 4ft long and you're still throwing them up behind you AFTER your first sprint tri! You're an amazing athlete!

21stCenturyMom said...

AWESOME! Good thing we all knew you could do it because apparently you had doubts right up until you had fun! So I'm not usually one to say this but I TOLD YOU SO!

So would that race on the 27th be an Oly? Woo hoo!

Anne said...

Perhaps the pharmaceutical companies can bottle that certain something behind your euphoria or steady state, pay you royalties for providing the secret sauce and then you can afford to do this all the time. Hey, any race in which you pass a 27-year-old on the run you know is going to end well. Congratulations.

Jack said...

Great job beating the anxiety, way to go!

Sunshine said...

Yes! I read "this far" .. and all the way to the end.. and you are delightful.
Two things, at least, I am sure of: (1) I will watch for your future reports (2) I will absolutely never try to do a Tri
Congratulations on your good race!!

Deene said...

amazing post! i'm still afraid of open water and i don't even have anxiety disorder. you kicked butt!

Anonymous said...

You should be very proud. YOu made it through your first tri and appear excited for NJ! And I'm confident your not even thinking about those pedals anymore.

Judi said...

I am really proud of you! What an awesome accomplishment!

Rae said...

Way to go!!! I'm so glad your first tri went so well!!!!

Dori said...

Congratulations! You're my hero. You inspire me by the way you face your fears. Well done. :-)

Anonymous said...

i used to take pennies, too, until i got one stuck up my nostril. that cured my addiction.

i'm proud of you. you are supermum! you and the nutter of melbourne should do a tag team of mud wrestling. you're both awesome, and mud wrestling needs to come back.

Kathy said...

I found your blog and love it! Congrats on the tri! I have it in my mind to do one. I'm working on the swimming part :0) I'll have to read more to see how long you trained, etc . . . I'm proud of you, keep going!

Just12Finish said...